Mercy Malaysia

MERCY Malaysia
MERCY Malaysia logo.png
Type NGO
Founded 16 September 1999
Location Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Founder Tan Sri Dr Jemilah Mahmood
Patron His Royal Highness Sultan Azlan Shah of Perak
President Dato' Dr. Ahmad Faizal Perdaus
Field Humanitarianism
Mission To provide medical relief, sustainable health related development and risk reduction activities for vulnerable communities in crisis and non-crisis situations.

MERCY Malaysia is a non-profit organization focusing on sustainable health related development and risk reduction activities for vulnerable communities in crisis and non-crisis situations. The organisation is a registered society according to the Societies Act(1966) in Malaysia, and the headquarters is based in the capital city of Kuala Lumpur.



The Early Years (1999 - 2003)

MERCY Malaysia was founded by Dr Jemilah Mahmood in 1999 in response to the conflict in Kosova. Finding no pre-existing organisation that could sponsor her to volunteer her medical services there, she and a group of friends registered MERCY Malaysia with the Registrar of Societies with the objective of providing medical relief.[1] Working with Helping Hands USA, MERCY Malaysia then sent a total of five missions to Kosova to provide mobile medical care. That same year, MERCY Malaysia sent relief teams to Turkey in response to the 1999 İzmit earthquake.

In 2000, MERCY Malaysia provided medical assistance to the Internally Displaced Persons(IDPs) due to conflict in Maluku, Indonesia.

The year after saw the organisation responding to the medical needs of the survivors of the 2001 Gujarat earthquake. Later in 2001, MERCY Malaysia responded to the survivors of the Cambodia floods[2] in Kampong Cham.[3] In October 2001, the organisation sent a team to Afghanistan to serve the IDPs at refugee camps.[4]

In 2002, MERCY Malaysia continued to deliver more medical relief and grew its operations along the way. The organisation continued its presence in Kabul,[5] and later expanded its operations in Afghanistan to run the only medical centre in Spin Buldak,[6] an area located approximately 100 km away from Kandahar. MERCY Malaysia then launched the Cambodia Relief Fund to continue to support the relief efforts due to the flooding in Mekong.[7] The organisation also began to receive more recognition and significant fundraising and donations from external parties as it responded to the needs in Palestine.[8]

In 2003, MERCY Malaysia responded to the needs in Baghdad, Iraq and sent its first team in January.[9] In February, MERCY Malaysia launched its China Humanitarian Fund and sent a team in response to the 6.8-magnitude earthquake which struck a remote area of Xinjiang province in northwest China, near the border with Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.[10] In April 2003, the MERCY Malaysia team were mistaken for hostile forces and was attacked in Iraq, where Dr Baba Deni and Dr Jemilah were both injured in the incident.[11] May 2003 saw MERCY Malaysia responding to international appeal from Sri Lanka after the republic suffered its worst floods and landslides in 60 years.[12] The six-person team was deployed to southern Sri Lanka to render critical medical and humanitarian aid to flood and landslide victims in Ratnapura, located about 100 km south-east of Colombo. The year closed with another mission sent to Kerman, Iran following the Bam earthquake which occurred on December 26, 2003.[13] The nine-person team -including Dr Bubble, a hospital clown doctor- provided medical and psycho-social support to the earthquake survivors, and was stationed at the former Italian Field Hospital in Baravat, 5 km from Bam.[14]

The Tipping Point (2004)

In the early part of 2004, MERCY Malaysia continued its work in the conflict zones, and launched a fundraising campaign in collaboration with the Ministry of Education of Malaysia to provide schoolbags for children in war-torn countries like Palestine, Afghanistan and Iraq.[15]

For Iraq in particular, MERCY Malaysia allocated RM1 million in medical and humanitarian aid, and collaborated with Islamic Relief to transport three trucks of humanitarian aid to Falluja.[16]

MERCY Malaysia then responded to North Korea's appeal for international aid following the train collision and explosion in Ryongchon.,[17] where the three-person team brought along medical supplies worth RM50,000.

In 2004, the organisation started gaining more recognition for its humanitarian work, receiving five nominations for the NSTP-PwC Young Humanitarian Award,[18] and in July, Dr Jemilah Mahmood was appointed the first president of National Federation of Non-Governmental Organisations for Disaster Relief Malaysia (NFNDRM).[19]

In the same month, MERCY Malaysia responded to a request from the United Nations (UN) agencies to lend medical assistance to the IDPs in Sudan.[20] After the initial assessment, MERCY Malaysia kick-started the fundraising for the Maternity and Child Health Clinic for the women in El-Geneina in West Darfur.[21] In addition, MERCY Malaysia also constructed shelters for relatives of patients at the El-Geneina Hospital, as well as a feeding centre to cater to the patients’ nutritional needs.[22]

Meanwhile, with the advent of winter in Fallujah, the humanitarian work continues with the delivery of essential items to the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) there, and MERCY Malaysia also concluded its rehabilitation of the Ibn Al-Quff Hospital and the Al-Mansoor Paediatric Teaching Hospital in Iraq.[23] Another successful reconstruction project in Bam, Iran, was also officiated. The new health centre, financed by the people and government of Malaysia, was designed to cater for the city’s 130,000 people and treat up to 200 patients a day.[24] Early December 2004 saw MERCY Malaysia responding to the humanitarian needs in the Philippines to assist the survivors of the tropical storms, which had left some 1,000 dead.[25]

The 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami was a major tipping point for the organisation. “We were the first international organisation to arrive (in Aceh) and it was publicised by the international media. Suddenly, people realised there was MERCY Malaysia,” Dr Jemilah said.[26] MERCY Malaysia deployed teams to Aceh [27] and Sri Lanka,[28] as well as assisting the tsunami survivors on the home front in Penang, Malaysia.[29] A book was launched in 2005, entitled "A Time To Heal: A Reflection of Mercy Malaysia's Response to the Indian Ocean Tsunami"[30] to commemorate the disaster that struck on Dec 26, 2004. The coffeetable book relates the experiences of MERCY Malaysia's relief workers in Malaysia, Indonesia's Aceh province and Sri Lanka.

A Period of Rapid Growth (2005-2007)

2005: The Aftermath of the Tsunami, and Coping with Other Disasters

The earlier part of 2005 was occupied with the humanitarian response due to the tsunami, and MERCY Malaysia readily admitted that the scale of the disaster had stretched their operations to the limits.[31] Public support was overwhelming, and donations flowed in the form of financial assistance as well as donations in-kind such as body bags[32] and clothes. In-kind donations became unmanageable at one point when irrelevant and unusable items were donated, and MERCY Malaysia had to appeal to the public not to look at the organisation as a dumping ground for unwanted goods.[33] As part of the reconstruction effort for the tsunami survivors, the organisation provided seismic-resistant homes for the refugees from Kampong Weu Raya and Sebun Ayu in Lhok Nga,[34] as well as rebuilding the Meuraxa Community Health Centre in Banda Aceh.[35]

The rebuilding of the houses for the people of Kampong Weu Raya proved to be a good learning experience for the organisation. Identifying actual boundaries was a difficult task, as surviving villagers had to delineate the plots of land where their houses used to be.[36] Once construction started, the team of 30 skilled villagers and 180 construction workers from Medan managed to build at a rate of one house a day, using shorea wood and concrete. Originally designed to be 36 square metres, each unit was later expanded to 52 square metres. Discontentment arose among some of the villagers who wanted brick houses or different designs given by other NGOs. As the village was rebuilt on its original site – about 20 minutes from the Banda Aceh city centre in the north-west coastal area – it remained vulnerable to future disasters. Preparedness measures were needed, and a tsunami escape route was designed to guide the villagers towards the quickest paths to safer, higher grounds.

In March, MERCY Malaysia responded to the 2005 Sumatra earthquake which struck the Nias islands.[37] October saw the organisation providing aid in response to the 2005 Kashmir earthquake which struck the Pakistan-administered Kashmir known as Azad Kashmir, near the city of Muzaffarabad.[38] A field hospital was set up, and more than seven teams were sent to serve over 400,000[39] survivors in the remote town of Bagh.[40]


MERCY Malaysia handed over its projects -the Reproductive Health Unit at the El-Geneina Hospital, and a local school- to the local community and exited West Darfur in March, due to lack of funds as well as escalating violence in the region.[41] In April, Dr Jemilah Mahmood and Dr Baba Deni were conferred the title Datuk from His Royal Highness, Seri Paduka Baginda Yang di-Pertuan Agong, His Majesty's birthday for their services in Iraq.[42]

2008 and Beyond

In 2008, MERCY Malaysia also responded to Myanmar to aid the survivors of Cyclone Nargis.[43]


In compliance with the Societies Act, MERCY Malaysia submits its accounts to an external auditor, publishes its Annual Report for review and holds an Annual General Meeting for all members, usually in the month of June of every year.[44]

The structure and governance of the society is outlined by the Constitution of MERCY Malaysia.[45]


The Patron of MERCY Malaysia is His Royal Highness Sultan Azlan Shah of Perak. According to Article 17 of the Constitution, "A Patron of the Society, subject to his/her consent, shall be a distinguished person as may be appointed by a resolution of a General Meeting."

Board of Trustees

MERCY Malaysia currently has four trustees on its Board.[46]

According to Article 16 of the Constitution, the trustees are empowered to "ensure good governance of the Society including, but not limited to, matters pertaining to governance, financial health, audit and asset management of the Society."

As MERCY Malaysia is not a registered company, its ability to acquire assets are restricted by the Societies Act. However, with the provisions in Article 19, which outlines the scope of Investment Towards Self-Sufficiency, the organisation -through the Board of Trustees- "has the power to own land, to apply for and acquire land, to lease, charge and discharge land, erect and own buildings on land acquired."

Executive Council

According to Article 8 of the Constitution, The Executive Council shall consist of;

  1. A President; who shall be a Medical Doctor
  2. Two (2) Vice Presidents, of which Vice President I shall be a Medical Professional and Vice President II who is not a Medical Professional;
  3. An Honorary Secretary;
  4. An Assistant Honorary Secretary;
  5. An Honorary Treasurer; and
  6. Three (3) Ordinary Council Members of which at least one (1) shall be a Member who is a medical professional.

Society Member

According to Article 6, there are two types of memberships that allows for voting rights in the Annual General Meeting; Ordinary Members and Life Members. The difference is defined in the fees paid to the society.

Another type of membership available is Honorary Membership. Since this category seeks to honour individuals who have directly or indirectly contributed to the organisation's objectives, and nominations are made by the Executive Council, Honorary Members are not entitled to vote at the Annual General Meeting.


According to Article 11, "The Society shall have a Secretariat consisting of a Chief Executive Officer and a number of officers, all employed by the Society either on a permanent or contract basis."

The Secretariat is responsible for executing decisions made by the Executive Council, where the CEO reports to the Executive Council on a regular basis.

To avoid conflict of interest, no member of the Executive Council shall at the same time be employed as a member of the Secretariat. This distinction is also necessary as the Executive Council are nominated by society members. The officers in the Secretariat are employed by the organisation, and as such their relationship with the organisation is governed by their employment contract and the Labour Law of Malaysia.


In 2004, MERCY Malaysia made its financial reporting available to the public through the publication of its annual reports.[47] The organisation also won Special Mention in the ACCA Malaysia Environmental and Social Reporting Awards (MESRA) for Social Reporting by an NGO, for the years 2006[48] and 2007.[49]

In 2007, MERCY Malaysia became the third NGO in the world (and first in Asia) to get a Humanitarian Accountability Partnership (HAP) certification.[50]

Change of Leadership

On 3 August 2009, Dato' Dr. Ahmad Faizal Mohd. Perdaus took over the position of President of MERCY Malaysia from Tan Sri Dr. Jemilah Mahmood.[51]


  1. ^ Transnational activism in Asia: problems of power and democracy By Nicola Piper, Anders Uhlin, p133 [1]
  2. ^ Background and Cambodia Disaster Situation
  3. ^ Five-member team for Cambodia
  4. ^ Mercy team to leave on Tuesday
  5. ^ 12th mission to Kabul
  6. ^ Succour to the needy in Spin Buldak
  7. ^ Mercy Malaysia starts Cambodia Relief Fund for flood victims
  8. ^ Pertama boost for the cause of Palestinians
  9. ^ MERCY Malaysia among NGOs leaving for Baghdad
  10. ^ Mercy Malaysia launches drive to help quake victims
  11. ^ ‘Biting the bullet’ for Iraqis
  12. ^ Mercy Malaysia all set to help Lankan flood victims
  13. ^ Mercy Malaysia to send medical team to Kerman
  14. ^ Blowing bubbles amid the rubble
  15. ^ Bags for children in war-torn lands
  16. ^ Mercy Malaysia allocates RM1m in aid for Iraq
  17. ^ Malaysian medical relief society sends aid to North Korea
  18. ^ Mercy Malaysia strong contender for award
  19. ^ Jemilah Heads Disaster Relief NGOs
  20. ^ MERCY Malaysia Needs RM1.5 Million for Relief Mission to Sudan
  21. ^ MERCY Needs RM2 Million for Sudan Relief
  22. ^ Shelters for patients’ relatives
  23. ^ Mercy Malaysia dispensing aid to Fallujah’s needy
  24. ^ Gift of health centre for Bam
  25. ^ Mercy to aid storm victims in Philippines
  26. ^ Rebuilding lives
  27. ^ Mercy Malaysia team for Aceh
  28. ^ Sri Lanka welcomes help from Malaysians
  29. ^ Mercy sends team to Penang
  30. ^ "A Time To Heal: A Reflection of Mercy Malaysia's Response to the Indian Ocean Tsunami [2]
  31. ^ Mercy team stretched to the limit in Aceh
  32. ^ Social worker close to target of getting 20,000 body bags
  33. ^ ‘Donors’ using centres as dumping grounds
  34. ^ Mercy Malaysia to provide earthquake-proof houses
  35. ^ Mercy to rebuild hub
  36. ^ A new beginning in Aceh
  37. ^ Heavy rain delays Mercy trip to Nias
  38. ^ Mercy team gets to work
  39. ^ Some Mercy Malaysia volunteers return home
  40. ^ NGO seeks funds for clinics in Pakistan
  41. ^ A touch of Mercy in West Darfur
  42. ^ Award only the deserving
  43. ^ Mercy team off to Yangon to evaluate cyclone crisis
  44. ^ MERCY Malaysia - Our Society
  45. ^ Constitution of MERCY Malaysia
  46. ^ MERCY Malaysia - Our Governance
  47. ^ MERCY Malaysia Annual Reports
  48. ^ ACCA Malaysia Environmental and Social Reporting Awards (MESRA) Report of the Judges 2006 [3]
  49. ^ ACCA Malaysia Environmental and Social Reporting Awards (MESRA) Report of the Judges 2007 [4]
  50. ^ Giving aid with gratitude
  51. ^ Ahmad Faizal Perdaus Mercy Malaysia's New President

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